If you’ve ever wondered, “Why can’t I orgasm?” there may finally be an answer.
It’s sad, but true: Climaxing for women is anything but easy. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic reports that only 10% of women can easily achieve an orgasm. The other 90% have to deal with a lot of outside factors — everything from what position you’re in to what you do all day at work — that may inhibit getting off. If you’re struggling, these sneaky problems could be causing issues in the bedroom.
1. You spend most of the day sitting.
Chaining yourself to that desk chair may make your boss happy, but it’s bad news for your pelvic muscles.
Sitting all day shortens them, and that can lead to pelvic pain that makes it more difficult to orgasm, says marriage and sex therapist Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D. To prevent problems, she suggests setting an alarm as a reminder to move every half-hour to hour during the work day. (Some activity trackers and smart watches, like the Fitbit Versa, will buzz your wrist to encourage 250 steps every hour.)
Able to slip into a private office or conference room? Stretch your hip flexors with back bends, squats, and butterfly stretches.
2. You wear high heels.
Not only are sky-high heels just plain painful to walk in, but wearing them can also have deforming effects on your psoas muscles, which connect with muscles and nerves that lead to your pelvic floor, genitalia, and related organs, says Eden Fromberg, D.O., founder of Holistic Gynecology New York.
“When your psoas muscles are sticky and tense due to prolonged high heel wear, they can’t transmit the arousal message necessary for orgasm,” she explains.
Avoid wearing them as much as possible, opting for more comfortable, supportive footwear instead.
3. You don’t drink enough water.
Drinking water throughout the day can prevent everyday health problems like fatigue and constipation, and it can also help you climax in the bedroom, Dr. Fromberg says.
The arousal tissue that extends into the connective tissue system needs to slide and glide in order to work its O-inducing magic, and it can’t do that without fluid, she explains.
The easiest way to ensure that happens is to be hydrated, so down an extra glass or two, especially if you’ve had cocktails, as alcohol is dehydrating.
4. You don’t make noise.
Being vocal during sex has been proven to work wonders for women, as it can allow you to orgasm longer, harder, and more often, says Laurel House, relationship expert and author of Screwing the Rules. So when something really turns you on, say it — whether it’s through a moan, quietly saying “right there,” or screaming “yes!” If that feels uncomfortable after a few tries, House suggests heightening your sensory experience. “Take in the feeling of skin-to-skin contact; enjoy the pressure of your partner’s body pressing down on yours,”she says.
Embracing these sensations will help you tune out the world and focus on maximizing your experience.
5. Your medication is interfering.
You know that little paper packet that lists the side effects of your medication?
Actually read it, as drugs that cause a spike in prolactin levels — a protein that reduces libido — could be the culprit behind your inability to climax, Dr. Van Kirk says. Typically, blood pressure medications, birth control pills, and antidepressants are the main culprits,” she adds. Antihistamines may also work against you because they can reduce your ability to self-lubricate and make sex comfortable, Dr. Van Kirk says.
If that’s the case, make sure you have plenty of lubricant to keep sex in the pleasure zone, and talk to your doctor about a possible medication switch if problems persist.
6. Your oxytocin levels are too low.
Oxytocin, nicknamed the “feel good” or “love” hormone, goes hand-in-hand with orgasms, Dr. Van Kirk says.
If your body isn’t producing enough of it, climaxing can be more difficult. Stress can be a major reason for low oxytocin production, but spending more time with your partner, looking into their eyes, holding hands, and kissing have all been proven to boost production of the hormone.
Have a furry friend? Researchers believe that cuddling with a pet also prompts the release of oxytocin.
7. You don’t masturbate.
How frequently you pleasure yourself can directly affect your chances of reaching orgasm when you’re with your partner, Dr. Van Kirk says.
A woman’s ability to fantasize and use her imagination during masturbation can help her unleash her creative inhibitions in bed, and it helps her learn exactly how and where she likes to be touched.
To up your chances of achieving orgasm with a partner, Jenny Block, author of O Wow: Discovering Your Ultimate Orgasm, recommends masturbating a few times a week.
8. You forgot to pee before sex.
Everyone knows to pee right after sex to help prevent a urinary tract infection, but it’s smart to go beforehand too.
“It can be incredibly hard to reach orgasm when your bladder is full,” Block says. The reason is simple: Instead of being in the moment, you’re constantly feeling the pressure to pee, and praying you don’t actually do so in bed.
If there’s no way you’re going to make it to the end, Dr. Van Kirk suggests slipping out of bed to dim the lights, lighting a candle, and encouraging your partner to masturbate while you take a quick pee break.
9. You’re afraid to lose control.
When you’re taught to be in control of every aspect of your life, it can be tough to do the exact opposite in bed. But refusing to let go could be the reason you’re unable to orgasm because, well, orgasms tend to take over as they move throughout your body. But if just the thought of that gives you heart palpitations, don’t freak out — you don’t lose complete control over your body.
At most, your body may shake and your vaginal wall muscles contract, Block says. Remind yourself of that when you’re in the moment, and as sensations start to build, keep breathing and try to let your body go with it.
If you feel like you still need help letting go, talking with a sex therapist may help.
10. You don’t tell your partner what you want.
You’re not a mind reader, and neither is your partner.
Staying silent about what really turns you on isn’t going to help you climax. Plus, every woman’s body parts are shaped slightly different, so motions and angles that feel amazing for one person just don’t do it for another, Dr. Van Kirk says.
The lesson here: speak up. “Sometimes a groan or a touch of the hand can make all of the difference,” she says. If they still don’t get it, tell them directly, or move their hand exactly where you want it. Most consider it a huge turn-on to see a woman so confident in bed.